A telegram warmer & prominence
This is a fun activity to use as a warmer
& also as an introduction to prominence.
Ask the students to write a three or four
word telegram in secret - elicit an example to give them the
idea. When all have one written, assign roles in pairs of
sender & receiver. The receiver sits in front of the sender
with her/his back to the sender who writes, letter by letter,
the telegram on their partner's back with a pen. Not with
the nib - the other end so that the student 'receiving' the
message can feel each letter being drawn on her/his back.
While the message is being conveyed the receiver can write
each letter down. When all of the telegram has been written
they check to see if it has been received correctly. Then
the students change roles.
After this you could then ask the students
to write their telegrams out in full & then you could tell
them about prominence (sentence stress). E.g. we hear the
prominent words - the content words (nouns, verbs..) - not
the grammar words (prepositions, auxiliaries..). The content
words carry the important information. This is the first function
of prominence - to convey important information. The idea
of telegrams is the same.
Then you could transfer this all to a listening activity -
the students listen to isolated utterances & have to mark
the stressed words/syllables. They then see if they could
get the message across with just these words - telegram style!
For the slowly expanding section devoted
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New Year Resolutions
New Year resolutions are always
a nice way to begin the first lesson after the Xmas break.
The discussions bring out things that happened last year as
well as things the students would like to happen to them personally
this year & provide a good group feeling to the start of the
As an extension on this you
could focus on effective learning strategies. Here the students
make a list of things they might want to change in the coming
year. Prepare a list of manageable things that you think will
help them to become more effective learners, such as keeping
better vocab & language records, reviewing vocabulary for
five minutes each day, spending more time on homework, writing
down strategies of how they went about doing a particular
task etc... Discuss them as a group, maybe put them in order
of importance, & ask the students to choose three that they'd
like to incorporate. Remind them of these in the next few
lessons & come back to them in a month's time to see if they've
kept to their resolutions or not.
You could also extend the 'resolution'
idea by getting into the area of conflicts happening around
the world - or local ones if it would be more interesting.
Clearly they would all be better resolved but ask your students
to discuss which, if they had the power, they would resolve
first. They also have to give reasons for their choices.
Then they could discuss New
Year resolutions that public figures might make e.g. Bush,
Blair etc. And then you're into predictions for the year ahead
& the language of prediction & probability.
For classroom use, there is
a 'Review of the
Year 2000 Quiz' on this site
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Last week I talked about a 'snail race'
as a means to getting your students to review their notes
& have a fun competition about the work covered. You may want
to give a more formal test to really show them what they have
covered & what they have got under their belts, or not. Here
are a few ideas to consider
Before the test:
- tell the students which areas your are going to include
in the test.
- give out the test in the previous lesson & give them twenty
minutes to look it over. They then know what to go & review.
- give out the test for them to take away & look at, but not
do, & bring it back to complete in the next lesson. (I really
think this is the way the DELTA written exam, for language
teachers, should go - give out the material a few days before
the exam & the actual questions on the day.)
While they do the test:
- let them refer to their notes, a grammar book, a dictionary
- all important study tools.
- let them ask you, & each other, questions.
After the test:
- let the students mark their own test,
- another way of getting them to refer to the coursebook &
- let them decide which areas they
need to cover again.
It is important to explain to the students
why you are taking this rather different approach to the test.
The idea behind these ideas is that the students do take the
test seriously & they motivate them to actually review the
work covered & perform better. A friendly, motivating approach
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